OK, technically, it was never illegal to whine about work on the internets. It was, however, legal for employers to fire their workers for complaining about their jobs online. That’s getting a little bit harder now, thanks to a recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board.
Just before Christmas, the NLRB decided the case Hispanics United of Buffalo in favor of domestic violence advocate Mariana Cole-Rivera and her fellow employees, who were terminated for complaining (off-the-clock) about their fellow workers on Facebook.
“The NLRB’s 3-1 ruling establishes an important precedent: The New Deal-era law that protects your right to strike or picket also protects your right to tweet or comment,” Josh Eidelson explains on Slate.
What does it mean for you? Maybe nothing — if you’re tweeting or posting alone. The important factor here is that Cole-Rivera was complaining with others, which means that her posts could be construed as collective bargaining, which is covered under 1935 National Labor Relations Act. Cole-Rivera successfully convinced the NLRB that her Facebook conversation constituted “concerted activity” and not just aimless complaining.
If you’re a private employee, non-union, and acting by yourself, you might not have the same freedoms. So in general, the old advice still stands: If you wouldn’t print it out and hang it over your desk, don’t post it on the internet.
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